Scott Mendelson Makes Amends; Clarifies View That Feature Animation Technically Is a Genre

Scott Mendelson Makes Amends; Clarifies View That Feature Animation Technically Is a Genre

Last month Scott Mendelson at Forbes posted an
incendiary article
where he postulated the view that the crop of animated films
released over the summer constituted a glut of the artform.

Well, now he’s making amends; sort of. In another
piece posted on Forbes
, Mendelson qualifies his remarks and
manages to do so in an honest way that really shouldn’t offend anyone because,
he’s right:

“But when
it comes to discussing mainstream animated films in America, it is
unfortunately a question of genre. Artistically and especially financially
speaking, films like Cloudy With A
Chance Of Meatballs 2 and Turbo are
indeed cut from similar cloth in that they are basically targeting the same
audience. We might decry this fact, but American animated films are still
considered child’s play, a notion that heavily influences who they are aimed at
and how they are made.”

It’s tough to take the view that all the animated films released
so far this year have represented a wide range of genres and styles and been
seen by a varied mix of audiences. That’s because it’s simply not the case.

If animated features are all created for, and released to, the
same audience, and feature the same style of storytelling for which we can
blame Pixar (no, really, we can; wise-cracking characters on a journey of
self-discovery and not a song in sight? Toy Story did it first), then for all
intents and purposes, the technique appears to the average Joe Public as a

To be clear, it isn’t a case that animation is a genre, it’s just that without the presence of animated films
in specified genres, it may as well be one. And to go even further, it isn’t
even a feature film problem, it’s an American feature film one.

American studios are the ones who have latched onto the
hit-making formula and are in the process of running as far as they can with
it. Features from other countries are far less stymied by the same problems.
Partly because of cultural reasons, but also partly because they are more
willing to take risks with their storytelling.

Mendelson perhaps sums it up

“Until we
have a wide variety of American animated films being produced for mass
consumption, in different genres and aimed at different audiences, American
animation is unfortunately a category unto itself. It arguably shouldn’t be the
case and certainly does not have to be the case, but for now, it most certainly
is the case.”

The question now is, how long will the situation remain like
this, and what will it be like when the hypothetical music eventually stops?

Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.

This Article is related to: Features


James Cameron


John Remus

By the way the people in this article are talking. Its like they've never seen a Studio Ghibli film before. A they are still making movies last time I checked. How about you give them some of the spotlight. Since they are the only ones making the kind of animated movies you claim don't exist.

Alex Dudley

The situation will remain when someone has the clout (namely, a famous live-action film director), or some studio hire-up is "crazy enough" to try to do something different.
Also, studios would be willing to try something different if an animated movie would be cheap to produce, and one of the main ways to do that is have the animation handled by some foreign studio.

Chidi Ozieh

American animation is limited to "child themes" because that is what makes more money (selling 4 tickets and popcorn etc). As long as the money keeps flowing big studios will not take the chance exploring genres in animation like other world markets…although I do think brave indie film makers can find a niche American market for more adult broad genre using the medium of animation. Animation is definitely not a genre. It is a medium within the tapestry of cinematic storytelling.

Nic Kramer

My question is when is Kenny going to do real animation news and when is going to introduce the "Wayne and Wanda" of animation?

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